While growing, our parents rarely mention of the enormous sacrifices they were making for us. It is only when a child made ablunder which pooped on their sacrifices, did they let it trip. Otherwise to them it was business as usual.
In the early 80’s my dad took a home mortgage since a huge chunk of his already meagre civil servant’s salary went to servicing this loan, mama, Nyar Manoah opened a business selling foodstuffs to workers in Nairobi’s Industrial area. Her earnings made sure that, generally we lacked nothing.
Before dad’s income stabilised, Nyar Manoah made oudles of sacrifices. Her wardrobe was the barest minimal. She made do with a couple of dresses and lessos, which were always clean. Nyar Manoah stretched every shilling and made it to do miracles, signs and wonders.
“Never show folks that you are struggling,” Nyar Manoah always said. “Show them that you are succeeding.” I learned from my old folks that sacrifice is every parents middle name.
Taste and sound of sacrifice
There have been times when we have had to make down with food that is barely enough to feed one mouth. At such times, my wife and I have been forced, for formality’s sake, to eat a couple of spoons of food and let our daughter eat to her fill.
When a hungry stomach is forced to survive on morsels, there is a sour taste that forms in ones palate.
Sacrifice tastes like sour saliva, which is hard to swallow. Sacrifice sounds like an empty stomach, which is grumbling protest songs. The sourness snd grumbles come when a parent forgoes a meal so that their child can have all the helpings in the world.
The scent of sacrifice
I’m ‘every parent’. There are times I go to the supermarkets with a shopping list, but i’m forced to make “on-the-aisle” revision to my list. Many times I strike off items that were meant for me so that I can take care of my familys wants.
My parents often find themselves in this quandary, Money is short and the shopping list is miles long. Its either you or yours.
Last month I was torn between buying my cologne and getting treats for my family. Family won. Not suprisingly. And so it goes.. “Dah-dee?” My daughter quizzed. “Your perfume smells um, different.” “Chile,” I thought, “that’s not the smell of cheap perfume, it’s the smell of sacrifice.”
The sight of sacrifice
Nyar Manoah was a neat-freek. Never ashy. Ever clean. Her melanin was always glowing. Though she rarely went to the hairdresser because of our cash crunch, her natural curly hair was always shining like it had been soaked in gallons of liquid paraffin. And this proud mama made sure that her kids never wore tatters. I remember accompanying Nyar Manoah to Gikomba Market, where she bought previously – owned clothes for family. Plush she made sure that dads warddrobe looked like a million bucks. No wonder dad eugolised Nyar Manoah as ‘ratego’ which is Dholuo for, among others, “productive, hardworking, conscientious and industrious.
Sacrifice looks like a mom with the thinnest wardrobe on the block. Devoted parents are the face of sacrifice. The feel of sacrifice. Before I met my wife, my life was just about me, myself and I. Its not that I was selfish. I gave to others, but I did not do it unreservedly. When God gave us our baby girl, I did things that I did not think I would do. I found myself changing nappies with a smile on my face. I did everything and anything for my family. It’s like a sacrifice switch was flicked on me… and never went off. Sacrifice feels like giving your all – and then some – with the only strings attached being the heart strings.